Searching for the crested coralroot

Less than 70 miles. That’s the distance between my home in Charlotte and our place in the Uwharries. Sometimes the two feel worlds apart. Blue city, red county. Skyscrapers, silos. Congested streets, open roads. High-rise condos, low-slung ranch houses. It sometimes seems they have nothing in common. And then a rare occurrence reminds us just […]

Overcoming plant blindness: Seeing the extraordinary in the common

For a lay naturalist, springtime in the Uwharries can be exhausting. There’s a sense of urgency this time of year – the migrating birds and spring ephemerals come and go in a matter of weeks. I’ve resorted to multi-tasking. I’ve given up binoculars in favor of birding by ear. This allows me to identify the […]

Enjoy hiking? You should help build a trail

Most people who hike trails don’t take time to think about who makes and maintains paths through the woods. In the Uwharries, as in most recreational areas, most trail-building is done by dedicated volunteers. The Uwharrie Trailblazers club hits the trails every second Saturday of the month to help maintain and establish trails in Randolph […]

A changing landscape: Who are the Uwharries for?

In the years after World War II, my dad could roam the Uwharries with his .22 and his trusty squirrel dog, a feist named Spot. A boy didn’t have to worry about trespassing on a neighbor’s property; he only had to avoid the occasional moonshine still. Deer and turkey were virtually extirpated in the region, […]

How to brand a region: Searching for authentic identity in the Uwharries

Rural communities around Charlotte are looking for new economic engines. Urban residents are looking for more outdoor recreation. That provides an opportunity for communities around Charlotte to use their public lands and waterways to fuel growth. And two areas in the region that were ahead of the curve offer lessons for other communities trying to […]

National Land Trust Rally comes to North Carolina

Thanks to a brutal early fall heat wave, much of September felt more like July. As a result, I have not spent as much time outside as I would have liked. Last Friday, however, I was able to break away and spend the morning at Morrow Mountain State Park. A friend and myself hiked the […]

The Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection: Strengthening ties to revitalize communities

[Read the full report here] It was a cold January day in 2018 when eight researchers from UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute stepped out into the brisk air in Hamlet, a small town in Richmond County, N.C. A dusting of snow from a surprise storm the previous day still covered the railroad tracks adjacent to the […]

Defining our study area: How we picked the 32 counties

The city of Charlotte has a long reach. While this is certainly not a surprise, we don’t really know much about how Charlotte influences its surroundings and how far this reach extends. We do have some conventions to help us understand the extent to which our region is connected. Metropolitan areas are commonly used to […]

Rushes can restore some ecosystems – and beautify your backyard

“I call rushes the final frontier,” says Paula Gross, former associate director of the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. “That’s because I know so little about them myself!” A 19th century botanist described the genus as “obscure and uninviting,” she notes. As with so many other plants, my interest in rushes lies at the intersection of […]

Turning backyards into bird sanctuaries across the Piedmont

Wildlife habitat comes in all shapes and sizes, as does opportunity for improving it. The rural nature of the Uwharries and other areas around Charlotte allows us to restore grasslands and forests on a landscape scale, but the same management techniques have also proven successful on smaller parcels in urban parks and nature preserves. One […]